It was 20 years ago today…
It’s Christmas Eve. Jean and I were enjoying a little shrimp cocktail and some stuffed mushroom caps tonight when, all of a sudden, it hit me (let it be noted that it occurred to me first!!) — 20 years ago tonight, I popped the question.
At that time, I was working at a fairly large church as a program director. That means that Christmas was my busy season. We were just finishing up a rather lavish Christmas Eve service that had included a drama that called for a living room set. Thus, I had borrowed Jean’s furniture for the living room set. (It was much nicer than anything I had at that time!) My good friend Jay was the only person who knew of the ring and my plan to propose. We had rented a theater for the service, which meant that we had to clear out of the place on Christmas Eve after the service. So, at around 9:30 p.m., we were loading Jean’s furniture back into a truck. Jay insisted on supervising this because he was scared to death that if anything bad happened to Jean’s furniture, I would chicken out. For Jay, backing out was not an option, so he made sure everything was safely loaded and stowed.
The furniture made it just fine. We loaded it back into Jean’s living room and everybody left. We were scheduled to be at Jean’s families the next morning so, exhausted as I was, around 11, we made hot chocolate and settled in to open presents from under the tree. I had discarded the clam shell jewelry case and put the ring in an engraved, heart-shaped brass box. I also gave her a couple other presents first to throw her off the scent. Jean will tell you that by the time she got to the small brass box, an engagement ring was not even close to being on her mind. She had convinced herself that maybe it was something like a nice set of earrings. As she opened the small package, I strategically slipped onto one knee. When she opened it and saw the ring, I would say that she froze. When, she looked at me, somehow I got the proposal out. To this day, I don’t really remember the exact wording I used. I was exhausted and it was late. The important thing was that I got it out and that she said “yes.”
As we sealed the moment with a kiss, the only sound in the house was a “lap, lap, lap” as Jean’s dog Harvard took advantage of our distracted attention to snarf down our hot chocolate.
That was twenty years ago tonight, and it is still the smartest move I ever made.
Merry Christmas to you all. I hope that your holidays are just as memorable.